• Published 13th Dec 2012
  • 1,629 Views, 47 Comments

Kickin' Flanks - Xtralife



You see them saving Equestria. You watch them learning about friendship. You might even worship one as your immortal royal sun goddess. You think they're ponies just like you. You're wrong. Dead wrong!

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Prologue

The library door was burst wide open as a purple blur streaked through, and then immediately slammed shut. As quickly as she had entered, Twilight skidded to a halt in front of a hastily constructed surface. It took up half the size of the main room, composed of books stacked a foot high and a cloth draped over them all to prevent wear and tear. “Spike!” she cried out in exasperation as she threw off a pair of cheap sunglasses. “Fetch me ‘Faunae of Equestriae’, seventh volume!” Her hoof struck the makeshift table to emphasize her point, and miraculously not a single tome was shaken loose.

“Woof, woof. I’m not a dog, Twilight,” her faithful assistant countered. He approached the banister, a pile of scrolls in his chubby little arms and a cup of coffee grasped firmly by his tail. With zero enthusiasm, he dropped the parchment, downed the coffee, and leaped onto one of the ladders attached to the bookcase. “Can’t you do this by yourself, anyway?”

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times that they’re tracking my spells!” She nosed aside a large box obscuring a map splayed across the improvised table and began scribbling out areas with a pen.

Spike had already located the book. It was easier now to find any kind of reference material, seeing as how all of Twilight’s fiction novels had been used for their unintended purpose in the center of the room. He threw the book down to the unicorn, who caught it in her mouth. “But wait,” he asked, “if you don’t do any magic, doesn’t that make you look suspicious?” He dismounted the ladder, skipping over some of the steps, and sauntered over to his companion.

“And therein lies the problem. If I go outside of the shield I put up around the library and don’t do any magic, they notice a unicorn acting atypically. So in other words, I can’t go long without casting a spell. But the second that happens, they pop out of the shadows.”

The little dragon hopped onto the edge of the “table” and scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Isn’t there a word for this sort of thing?”

“You’re thinking of a ‘Catch-22’, Spike. That’s almost what this is, but I’ve worked my way around it.” She opened the book and flipped through to the index, running a hoof back and forth across the pages. “I’ve calculated that they notice me after twenty minutes of not doing magic. They then triangulate my position after another thirty. Within ten minutes afterwards, they’ve found my position. So when I leave the library, I set a timer on my watch for fifty minutes, and I make sure I’m back before it rings.”

Spike had curled up into a ball. A loud snore, clearly false, rang out. His unicorn employer and compatriot looked up from the book and stared, clearly annoyed.

“I’m sorry, it’s just you’re such an egghead.”

“Ha. Ha. I’m splitting my sides with laughter.”

“Aw, come on, Twi, I’m just foolin’. But in that case, you were only gone for half an hour… so did something happen?”

The unicorn opened her mouth slightly, about to fully reprimand him for his smart mouth, and decided instead to not waste the time on a fruitless endeavor. Instead, she opened the book to another page and answered her assistant’s question. “I promised I’d drop by Applejack’s place and feed Winona while she was gone, but when I couldn’t lift the bag I foolishly tried to levitate it.”

“And that’s when you were caught! These guys think of everything, I swear!” The dragon clenched a fist and dropped it into his other, opened hand. A quizzical expression suddenly came over his face. “But wait… if you’re being tracked, and you have a magical shield over the library, shouldn’t they be…”

In a flash, Spike bounded across the room and threw open the curtains on the window, but there was nothing suspicious there. He stared dumbfounded out at the view of Ponyville, which was now dotted by a number of advertising billboards.

Twilight giggled slightly. “An invention of my own,” she said with a slight hint of pride. “It’s a stealth magic shield! Not only does it hide where we are, but the traces of magic used to make it are hidden too.” She coughed a little, and examined her hoof. “And the magical traces used to hide the magical traces are concealed within themselves, and so on, and so forth.”

Spike froze. Trying to comprehend the infinite loop of magic was taking a toll on his young mind. He rapidly shook his head and trotted away instead of attempting to figure out the logistics. “Let me know if you need something, Twi. I gotta grab another coffee, and I can’t levitate the cups.”

The studious unicorn rolled her eyes in exasperation, but continued reading. The minutes turned into hours. A small pile of books rose up over time in front of her, opened to specific passages or otherwise set aside for potential research purposes. Spike carried cardboard boxes up and down the staircase, intermittently grabbing mugs of Coltlumbian Roast for himself and his partner. The shield bubble encasing the tree flickered faintly, though it seemed to go unnoticed by anypony outside. As the day turned into evening, their activities continued in much the same way, though now much slower.

They had finished a fifth pot of coffee by this point. Spike replaced the filter and poured another quart of water inside, and stared out at Ponyville through the window. The stars were rising high in the night and he could see lanterns being lit up one by one in the town, mirroring the lights above.

“Hey Twi, I’m gonna open the window,” said Spike. “It’s getting stuffy in here.” He flipped the latch and pushed it open, and a cool breeze drifted its way in. The dragon sighed in content, feeling it dry the sweat on his scales. His eyes closed, and he savored the moment; and without warning an owl flew in, hitting him in the face. The tips of its feathers were slightly singed and a scroll was grasped in its claws.

“Crazy bird!” cried out Spike as he reached out for the owl, but it had ricocheted off of his snout and barreled into the coffee maker. It was now lying still, but with its grip on the scroll still firm.

“Owlowiscious!” Twilight shoved her book aside and galloped to her pet. The bird raised its head slightly and made a faint hoot as the unicorn examined it. “You’re hurt! What happened?”

Spike gingerly petted the top of its head in apology. Owlowiscious hooted again and lifted a leg, handing the scroll over to Twilight. She grabbed it in her mouth, and flattened out the parchment on the kitchen counter amongst the empty coffee mugs. Her face blanched as she read the note to herself.

“Spike, get everything,” she said.

“What do you mean, everything?”

“I mean everything, Spike! By Celestia, they’re coming!